Will failures of past haunt taxpayers?
To the Editor,
This is what you will not be told by Johnston elected officials about the story that was aired on Channel 10 regarding pensions being paid to recent Johnston firefighter retirees. Imagine being about 50 years old and collecting in some cases more than double what you were hired at. Nice if you can get such a pension, but who agreed and signed such contracts? When the facts emerge will excuses begin to flow and finger pointing begin?
Polisena became Johnston’s mayor in 2007 and his first act was to request a supplemental tax. As a member of the council I did support his request, which raised some $3.8 million. Where has that money gone? Pension liabilities were high then and I believe are much greater today than they were in 2007. Was Polisena aware of those pension liabilities at the time? Yes, yes and yes. The State Auditor, General Almonte, informed him that Johnston was an “at risk” community. You must ask him what he has done to date to lower those pension liabilities, other than signing at least 3 new firefighter contracts? Have they helped?
Polisena was an appointee on the R.I. Municipal Pension Committee who was charged with the task of, “Perhaps doing something regarding the escalating pension liabilities many communities faced.” All taxpayers need to do is read the May 20, 2014 story by GoLocalProv where it says about Polisena, “Ranting and raving.” The commission was a failure.
Johnston elected officials were aware of our pension liabilities so at a March 12, 2012 council meeting I asked if a list of all Johnston’s retirees, disabled and regulars, could be provided to me with the proposed 2013 budget. Polisena responded with, “Sure, absolutely, you want both the police and fire?” I responded with, “Everybody,” As can be found on page 36 of the minutes of that meeting. Needless to say, I was never given such a list. Did he forget?
I was requested to attend a meeting with his honor on June 12, 2012 in his office. I was there; I was shown pictures and listened. Still no list was provided. It was at that time that I informed his honor that I would not be supporting his 2013 budget proposal without further information. Still, nothing was forthcoming except a visit from one of his followers to my home on June 18, 2012, the day of the so-called budget meeting. His mission was for me to change my vote to aye. I stood my ground but I suggest taxpayers read the minutes of that June 18, 2012 meeting.
What was and still is very disturbing to me was at the February 13, 2012 meeting, Polisena stood before the council and blamed Governor Carcieri for the problems cities and towns were having, because he had reduced state aid to said communities. What Polisena will not tell taxpayers is that tax revenues from 2007 to 2011, the years Carcieri reduced state aid, the town of Johnston’s tax revenues increased by more than $10,000,000.
Johnston is ideally located and much development is taking place in town, which is very good for taxpayers. Are town leaders now going to raise our tax rates for failures in the past to live within our budgets? Your guess is as good as mine. Mr. Mayor, the questions I have at this time are: What is the amount of our deferred liabilities? Who signs all the contracts, police, and fire, etc. for the town of Johnston?
Ernest F. Pitochelli, Sr.